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Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 
A Biographical Study
by Gregory John Tillett
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Chapter 17: The Liberal Catholic Church

          Leadbeater returned from his New Zealand tour on February 11th, 1916.  Two days later, in the Co-Masonic Temple, in Blomfield Road, London, James Ingall Wedgwood was consecrated to the episcopate as Presiding Bishop of the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain.  The consecrating bishops were Federick Willoughby, Robert King and Rupert Gauntlett, the latter two also being members of the TS, as were most of the witnesses who signed the Instrumentum  consecrationis, including George Arundale, Mabel Besant-Scott and Jose Acuna. [1]

          It had originally been intended that Wedgwood would be consecrated by Willoughby, formerly one of Archbishop Mathew's bishops, but it was feared that Wedgwood might not return from Australia in time.  Willoughby was planning to convert to the Roman Catholic Church and believed that he would be received into that Church almost immediately.  Therefore Robert King and Rupert Gauntlett were consecrated by Willoughby on September 26th, 1915, to hold the episcopate for Wedgwood. [2]  When Wedgwood returned, he was reluctant to accept consecration from Willoughby, or from bishops associated with him, since Wedgwood knew of the scandals in which Willoughby had been involved, and which had acquired notoriety in the press, notably in sensationalist articles in John Bull.


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          Frederick Samuel Willoughby had formerly been an Anglican incumbent, but was obliged to resign his living after charges of sexual immorality, by which was meant homosexuality.  He joined Mathew's small church, apparently informing Mathew of some of the charges against him, and suggesting that they were not only untrue, but part of a plot by his ecclesiastical enemies - that is, low church Anglicans who objected to his high church approach.  Mathew consecrated Willoughby as a bishop on October 28th, 1914, in the banqueting hall of the Bell Hotel, Bromley, in Kent.  When his attention was drawn to the scandals concerning Willoughby - as the result of the John Bull articles - Mathew suspended him. [3]

          Wedgwood knew that the charges against Willoughby were more or less true, and fearing that some of the mud thrown at Willoughby might stick to him, or to the church of which he had been elected leader, approached a number of other bishops seeking consecration.   He wrote to the Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht, by whom Mathew had originally been consecrated, but received no reply.  He endeavoured to persuade Bishop Frederick James, a fellow Theosophist and homosexual who ran a church known as The Sanctuary behind Harrods in London, to consecrate him, and he asked for assistance from a number of other free-lance


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bishops.   None would oblige.  He even thought of applying to the Syrian Catholic Church on the Malabar Coast of India, but finally settled for Willoughby. [4]

          Thus, Wedgwood received from Willoughy, King and Gauntlett the Apostolic Succession which HPB had denounced as a "gross and palpable fraud". [5]  Within a few months of his consecration, Wedgwood returned to Australia to confer with Leadbeater, leaving Bishop King, who generally earned his living as a psychic, in charge of the work in England.

          Leadbeater was most enthusiastic about the possibilities for the new church, "and having placed his services unreservedly at [its] disposal", was ordained sub conditione to the priesthood by Wedgwood on July 15th, 1916, having first received baptism end confirmation, together with all the Minor Orders and the Diaconate sub conditione in case the Anglican sacraments he had received were later called into question.  [6]  These ceremonies were performed at the residence of the Jonkheer Julian Mazel, a leading Dutch member of the TS, "Nandina", in Undercliff Street, Neutral Bay, a suburb of Sydney.

          On July 22nd, Wedgwood consecrated Leadbeater to the episcopate at "Crendon", the home of Mr and Mrs Gustav Kollerstrom, also eminent Theosophists. [7]  The Roman


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Pontifical in an English translation was used, and Wedgwood was assisted by two priests whom he had recently ordained, David Morton Tweedie of Adelaide, and John B. McConkey of Melbourne.  The witnesses who signed the Instrumentum  included the two priests, the Kollerstoms, and four of Leadbeater's current boy pupils. [8]

          Three days later, Leadbeater wrote to Mrs Besant:

          "Wedgwood has arrived and is in good health.  His consecration to the Episcopate has had the unexpected result of putting him practically at the head of the Old Catholic movement as far as the British Empire is concerned, all his colleagues (except, I think, one) in it being Theosophists ready to work under his direction.  This being so, he desires most earnestly to offer the movement to the World Teacher as one of the vehicles for His force, and a channel for the preparation for His Coming.  I took him therefore to the LORD MAITREYA at the Festival, and He was graciously pleased to accept the offer, and to say that He thought the movement would fill a niche in the scheme, and would be useful to Him.  From what He said I inferred that He Himself had so guided


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events as to produce this curious result, that a branch of the Catholic Church, helping the Apostolic Succession in a form which cannot be questioned, should be entirely in the hands of Theosophists, who are willing and eager to do exactly as He wishes.  He explained that this was a method of bringing over the Holy Orders of the old plan into the new one, and that this Old Catholic Church might very likely be the only branch of Christianity which would wholly and officially recognize and follow Him when He comes.  He does not want it to be aggressive in any way, but to go on quite quietly for the present, carrying on its services for its small congregation in London (as it is doing), gradually drawing round it those who love the Catholic ritual, but want a Theosophical interpretation of it and of the doctrine of the Church." [9]

          He then passed on the news of his own consecration:

          "With His permission Wedgwood has consecrated me as a Bishop on the understanding that I am at perfect liberty to wear my ordinary dress, and am in no way bound to perform any ecclesiastical ceremonies or to take any outward part in the work unless I


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see it useful to do so, but am to act as intermediary between the LORD and this branch of His Church, referring to Him any points of action or of doctrine upon which it desires instruction.   An interesting little glimpse of occult ways came to me the night after my consecration.  My own Master referred very kindly to it, and spoke of the additional power to help that it have given to me;  and then He remarked:   'You thought you had given up all prospect of a bishopric when you left your Church work thirty-two years ago to follow Upasika (HPB];   but I tell you that it would have been in this very year that you would have reached it had you remained in your original work, so you have lost nothing except the emoluments and the social position, and have gained enormously in other ways.  No one ever loses by serving Us!'  That struck me as curious, for I had never thought of it in that way." [10]

          It may appear curious that an assistant curate in a small village, lacking a University degree or any social status, should have aspired to be a bishop in the Church of England at a time when its concern with social position was so great.


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          From the Christ, Leadbeater passed on a message which constituted a commission for Wedgwood in beginning his new phase of church work.

          " ...Close and perfect is the communication which I have opened [with my Bishops];   it is for them to keep it open, and for this sleepless vigilance is needed.  This gift I have given to them not for their own enjoyment or advancement, but that through them My flock may be fed.  They have been many to whom through the ages I have offered this yet few have understood it and used it aright.   I have chosen you to hold it in these last days of this dispensation, and to occupy till I come...  As I said to those whom I chose twenty centuries ago, so I say to you now:  Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." [11]

          Leadbeater believed that the new church had been inspired by a "thought current" from the Master the Count, or as he was sometimes called, Prince Rakoczy, said to have been Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Christian Rosenzreutz (an almost certainly mythical figure said to have lived during the 15th century), Proclus (410-485), Roger Bacon (1219-1294), and St Alban (d. c. 303) in his previous incarnations. He was the


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and was therefore especially interested in Co-Masonry, Christian liturgy and other forms of ritual. [12]  Wedgwood had believed, until corrected by Leadbeater, that he had an active interest in the Temple of the Rosy Cross.

          Leadbeater did not lose his interest in Buddhism upon his consecration as a bishop, and endeavoured to fuse Buddhist and Christian traditions together.  He insisted, for example, that each New Year's eve his pupils all attend Mass in the Liberal Catholic Church, and then recite pansil, to dedicate the coming year to the Buddha. [13]  However, Buddhists, both within and outside the TS, saw his involvement in Christianity as a betrayal of the Buddhist faith.  The eminent Buddhist, Anagarika Dharmapala, with whom Leadbeater had been associated in Ceylon, concluded that Leadbeater had rejected Buddhism, having stolen some of its doctrines.

          " ...Members of the Theosophical Society who follow Leadbeater and Mrs Besant are against Buddhism.  They follow Jesus and he they say is greater than our Lord Buddha.  Leadbeater and Mrs Besant steal everything from Buddhism and palm it off as their own and swindle the ignorant members of the TS in England." [14]


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          Leadbeater, of course, rejected such an assertion.  Since he claimed to be in direct psychic communication with the Master at whose inspiration the church had come into being, he could claim personal knowledge of what was really happening.  He could also direct questions on matters of ecclesiastical and ceremonial importance to him.  He and Wedgwood spent much time discussing various reforms to the liturgy, organization and doctrine of their church, and Leadbeater directed these matters to the Count's attention for final resolution, using "an interesting method that he had learned in Egypt" whereby he could read the contents of a person's mind, and get his thought on any subject without distracting his attention from what he was doing at the time.  He could thus discern the Master's opinion on matters without interrupting his normal work, although the Master thought in medieval Latin, and Leadbeater found this somewhat difficult to translate.  Eventually, however, he was able to rise beyond the "concrete thought", phrased in Latin, and reach the idea behind it. [15]

          Leadbeater and Wedgwood settled down to the urgent work of revising the liturgy of what was still called the Old Roman Catholic Church.  The existing liturgy was basically a translation into English of the Dutch Old Catholic Missal compiled by Archbishop Mathew.  The revision


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was to be based on this original work, reformed in accordance with Leadbeater's clairvoyant perceptions and communications from the Masters, as well as on consultations with books on liturgy and ceremonial.  On September 5th, Leadbeater wrote to Mrs Besant:

          "We wish for your presence while we are working at the reconstruction of the Catholic Ritual.  Your splendid gift of language, your wonderful power of putting things poetically, would be invaluable to us.  This thing ought to be well done - the Ritual of His Church, the only one combining the power of the ancient Church with a true Theosophical expression of the real relation between GOD and man;  all the greatest poets of the age ought to be at work on it, not a couple of obscure though earnest gentlemen who have no special capacity for expression, whose productions are mildly commonplace." [15]

          The two bishops worked laboriously through the liturgy of the Mass and the other ceremonies of the Church.  They were radically different in temperament and style:  Wedgwood was quick and dynamic, Leadbeater slower and more attentive to detail.  Leadbeater worked steadily from morning until night;  Wedgwood produced large amounts of material in a short time,


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and often then disappeared for hours, or even days, at a time.  They experimented with various liturgical forms, and tried both Anglican, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox liturgies;  at each experimental celebration Leadbeater would carefully observe the inner effects with his clairvoyant perception.  The bishops were assisted by Mr and Mrs Kollerstrom, and their young son, Oscar, who was at this time Leadbeater's closest pupil. [16]

          The Liberal Catholic rite, which emerged over the year which followed, was based in part on Roman Catholic and Anglican sources, and was influenced by the elaborate ceremonial of the Catholic Apostolic Church (the so-called "Irvingites" [17]) and Archbishop Mathew's liturgy.  The ceremonial, as distinct from the liturgical text, was based on J.D.H. Dale's translation of Baldeschi's Ceremonial According to the Roman Rite, in addition to the standard work on the Roman Rite, Adrian Fortescue's The Ceremonies of  the Roman Rite Described which had replaced Baldeschi.  They were also influenced by the standard Anglo-Catholic ceremonial text, Ritual Notes. [18]

          Leadbeater's first exercise of his episcopal office came on September 9th, when he ordained Gustav Kollerstrom to the Priesthood.  At this time, Leadbeater had involved a number of his boy pupils in the new church, and


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soon afterwards he admitted the four pupils who had witnessed his Instrumentum - Oscar Kollerstrom, Hugh Noall, Walter Hassel (or Hesselman) and Willem Heyting - to Minor Orders, and they thereafter began to serve for his Masses. [19]

          The revision of the Liturgy of the Mass was completed in December, 1916, and Leadbeater wrote to Mrs Besant on the 12th of that month to inform her:

          "The night before last, we had the honor of submitting to the LORD MAITREYA the revised Ritual of the Mass to be used by the Old Catholic Church, at which we have been working for many months.... Our instructions were to preserve the old thought-forms and the working of the old magic - the effect of the various acts at different stages, the descent and return of the Angel of the Presence, etc. - but 'to take out all the brown and grey out of it and to substitute Gothic architecture for classical'.... Well, we have done what we could, but to make these changes and yet keep the essential part of the old form was no easy task.  The Lord was so gracious as to tell us that our result was a great improvement on anything that has been done before, and that it


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will do very well to go on with;  but I think He regards it as an intermediary stage on the way to a Mass of Affirmation rather than of prayer, in which we shall no longer ask GOD to do for us all sorts of things which we ought to be doing for ourselves.  But we must bring people along gradually, and this already departs widely from their pre-conceived ideas.   He accepted it most graciously, altering only the expression 'Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world', which we had left in because of its age, although we did not like it." [20]

          Leadbeater was able to give more detailed information about the Lord's consideration of the new Mass to a group of his pupils in Sydney:

          "We submitted our Mass and received some short comments on it.  I think, if one may venture to speak of such exalted Beings in such a way, and to use such a phrase, that Our LORD was in rather a hurry.  He had something else on hand, because He disposed of the Mass rather in a hurry." [21]

          However urgent his other business, he remained long enough to deliver several pages of detailed instructions for the


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liturgy of the Mass, with comments on ritual movements, the use of Latin phrases, the Apostolic succession, angels and other matters.  He also suggested that "the remarkable prayer which your theologians unkindly insist upon attributing to Me, though in its present form I have certainly no wish to be responsible for it" should be made optional.  Thus the Lord's Prayer did not appear as an obligatory part of the liturgy of the Mass.

          The Lord also approved the use of an additional Benediction to be added at the end of the Mass, following the traditional Christian blessing in the name of the Holy Trinity.  This additional text had originally been written by Mrs Besant, under the inspiration of the Inner Head of the ES, and was used exclusively in that organization.  But Leadbeater had desired that it should be introduced into the Mass, and sought the Lord's advice.

          "The Lord... sent for the Master Maitreya, and, so to speak, asked His permission - well, not exactly His permission - but said it would be useful, and would He consent to it being used.  Of course, the Master Morya was glad to do so." [22]

          The OH of the ES, Mrs Besant, also gave her permission, and so what was to be known as the First Ray Benediction was


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added to the Mass:

          "May the Holy Ones whose pupils you aspire to become, show you the Light you seek, give you the strong aid of their compassion and their wisdom.  There is a peace which passeth understanding;  it abides in the hearts of those who live in the eternal;  there is a power which maketh all things new;  it lives and moves in those who know the self as one.  May that peace brood over you, that power uplift you, till you stand where the One Initiator is invoked, till you see his Star shine forth." [23]

          Discussions with the Lord continued for several years, until finally in 1920 he examined the finished form of the Liturgy, and gave his approval.

          "He was so kind as to ask us to place the ritual in His hands and in a very strange and beautiful way He made its aura or its higher counterpart a kind of coruscating cylinder of light which He then passed between His hands, thereby instantaneously detecting certain flaws in it which He at once pointed out and instructed us to rectify.... He told us to ask certain questions from the Master


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K.H. upon points as to which we were uncertain, and the information which we gained in this way was of the very greatest value to us." [24]

          Leadbeater was also actively preparing hymns for the new church, revising Anglican originals to delete parts of which he disapproved, and gathering suitable material from other sources, including some rather sentimental Victorian poets, like the "New Thought" writer, Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1855-1919), thirteen of whose poems, usually with a doxology appended, were turned into hymns.  These were eventually compiled into the St Alban Hymnal, which included some original hymns by Leadbeater himself, written in his rather pompous Victorian style.  For example:

          Come, Lord of power and might,

          Make Thou us brave and strong,

          That in Thy cause we fight

          Injustice, hate or wrong;

          Thy banner we uphold,

          Thy flag we keep unfurled

          With fearless mien and bold

          Amidst a careless world. [25]

 

          Or:

 

          God is the King of Glory;


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          He shineth from afar,

          He writes the glowing story

          Of sun and moon and star.

          He is the grand Creator

          Of earth and sea and sky;

          He the superb Dictator

          Though all eternity. [26]

 

          Or:

 

          Our Master has called us to work,

          Devoting our lives to His cause,

          And ill it becomes us to shirk

          Or fail to remember His laws. [27]

 

          In Theosophy in Australasia Leadbeater was able to inform his readers:

          "The Old Catholic Church, at least as far as the autonomous section in the British Empire goes, permits to its members the widest measure of liberty in the interpretation of scripture, the creeds and the liturgy." [28]

          It was, he noted, a continuation of the "Orders and privileges that He arranged when last on earth", and was


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likely to be that religion which he would use when he came again.  It sought to revive the older meaning behind the traditional Christian doctrine, and Leadbeater referred his readers to his own work, The Christian Creed, for "the old elucidation of the meaning of that beautiful formula".  The Scriptures were not accepted as infallible or literally interpreted.

          Celibacy was left to the option of the priest, who was required to "revert to the apostolic practice of combining spiritual and secular avocations" - that is to say, "they earn their living in whatever honest manner they can".  The movement existed for the use of the World Teacher if he chose to take advantage of it, "putting itself wholly into His hands an instrument to be used at His will".  It continued the use of sacramental confession and absolution, although the general confession at the public services was considered adequate for normal purposes.  Priests, however, did possess the power to pronounce absolution, and though much misunderstood, this was "a straightforward and scientific process".  Through the absolution the Divine force rushed through a man's higher vehicles, and would "comb out the entanglement and straighten the twisted lines until he is once more in perfect harmony with God's will".  Leadbeater was more concerned with the ceremonial and sacramental aspects of the church, leaving the formulation of its


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theological and philosophical approach to Wedgwood. [29]

          Mrs Besant was enthusiastic about the revival of  Christianity which was promised in the Old Catholic movement, and she wrote about it in her "On the Watchtower" comments at the end of 1916:

          "There is slowly growing up in Europe, silently but steadily, with its strongest centre perhaps in Holland, but with members scattered in other European countries, the little known movement called the Old Catholic, with the ancient ritual, with unchallengeable Orders, yet holding itself aloof from the Papal Obedience.  This is a living Christian church which will grow and multiply as the years go on and which has a great future before it, small as it as yet is.  It is likely to become the future Church of Christendom 'when He comes'". [30]

          Mrs Besant's confused picture of the movement with which Leadbeater and Wedgwood and other Theosophists were associated suggested that she had not been told the truth.   The Old Catholic Church, led by Wedgwood in England, had nothing whatsoever to do with the extensive Old Catholic Church in Europe, which looked with horror on the


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proliferation of small sects deriving from Archbishop Mathew, and denounced them, declaring their "unchallengeable Orders" to be invalid. [31]  The Church of which Wedgwood was Presiding Bishop had members in Australia, New Zealand and England, but relatively few of them.

          However these facts may have escaped her notice, Mrs Besant proclaimed the Old Catholic Church to be one of the three movements inspired by the Masters which would

specifically work for the Coming.  The other two were Co-Masonry and the Theosophical Educational Trust. [32]  Leadbeater was actively involved in both of these, although he resigned from the latter when it was suggested that previous scandals associated with his name might lead to difficulties in promoting the Trust's work if he remained a part of it.

          Leadbeater began 1917 with the first of a long series of articles on church work for The Theosophist.  Although he was not initially identified as a bishop in Theosophical publications, he was, notwithstanding his "understanding" with Bishop Wedgwood, rarely seen out of episcopal attire, usually purple cassock, with pectoral cross and episcopal ring, and he preferred to be known as Bishop Leadbeater.  He proclaimed:


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          "The future is with the Church, for the Seventh Ray - the Ray of Ceremonial Magic - is beginning to dominate the world... The Lord Himself, Who founded the Church, is coming to visit it once more;  may He find it ready to receive Him, full of activity, devotion and love." [33]

          The first public services of the Church in Australia were held in Penzance Chambers in Sydney in April, 1917, and on Easter Day of that year Leadbeater celebrated the Mass for more than seventy communicants, also preaching the sermon.  The congregation averaged sixty or seventy, and a number of priests were ordained to serve it.

          However involved Leadbeater may have been with the new ecclesiastical movement, he also maintained his busy round of work for the TS, the ES, the OSE, Co-Masonry, and other associated groups.  In 1917 on White Lotus Day - a commemoration set aside in remembrance of HPB on May 8th each year - he set out to deliver an address to the Sydney Lodge of the TS.  Instead of the more traditional eulogy he excited the members of the Lodge by presenting them with a message direct from HPB which he had received whilst crossing Sydney Harbour on a ferry. [34]  He informed the members that HPB was now in a male body which she had taken immediately upon leaving her old female body on May


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1891. She had located a fourteen-year-old Indian boy, just fallen into a river and drowned, whose body she occupied so that it revived in time to avoid being cremated.  She had no direct involvement with the TS in this lifetime, but was interested in keeping a watch on it from a distance, and was happy to give her advice to the Society via Leadbeater, through whom she dictated "various teachings on different points".  Her message to the Sydney Lodge was one of encouragement, hoping that they would play their part for the Coming, so that their branch of the new sub-race "may not disappoint Him when he comes to rouse it and to lead it". [35]

          There were perhaps a few who recalled the Master's comments in his letter regarding HPB's reincarnation when he declared:

          "The intense desire of some to see Upasika [HPB] reincarnate at once has raised a misleading Mayavic ideation.  Upasika has useful work to do on higher planes and cannot come again so soon." [36]

          Leadbeater, however, explained that this meant that she could not "come again so soon" to the TS.  Her new body had been only "tentative" initially, and she did not finally "take it over" until 1900, when she began occult work


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unconnected with the TS.  Mrs Besant had proclaimed, in the days when she was infatuated by Chakravarti, that HPB had reincarnated in his daughter, but this teaching had not been widespread and was quietly, and quickly, forgotten when Chakravarti fell from grace. [37]  Few within the TS questioned Leadbeater's declaration of HPB's new body during his lifetime, although various enemies outside the TS at Adyar were less reverential in their remarks.  After his death a rather busy controversy raged in Adyar TS circles as to whether there was a contradiction between the Master's letter and Leadbeater's statement. [38]

          New revelations continued.  In The Disciple, the private ES journal, for May, 1917, Mrs Besant announced new orders from the Master.   The Lord Maitreya had commanded the development of three activities connected with the Coming:  the Theosophical Educational Trust, Co-Masonry and the Old Catholic Church.   He further required the development of the Ritual of the Mystic Star, which Jinarajadasa had been writing to replace the old Temple of the Rosy Cross. [39]  The Mass was to be revised, and a Theosophical Medical College, without vivisection, was to be established.   A note from Jinarajadasa accompanied the order, stating that he would submit the Mystic Star ritual to the Bodhisattva as soon as possible for approval.  Mrs Besant concluded:


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          "For the first time such a message is sent, and sent by One before Whom every Master bows in reverence and obedience.  His word is not to be criticized or ignored by any member of the E.S. from the Candidate to the highest degree.  It is to be obeyed." [40]

          The Lord also referred to the "Theosophical Church" and the importance of its Apostolic Succession.  Mrs Besant could therefore feel that the action of the Government of India in interning her and George Arundale at Ootacamund on June 21st was an event of no significance in the light of the cosmic drama that was unfolding.  Her political activities, however, so annoyed the Government, that she was kept out of circulation until September 21st." [41]

          On September 24th, Leadbeater and Wedgwood joined in consecrating Julian Mazel according to the English translation of the Roman Pontifical;  he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop for Australia. [42]  The rest of the year was spent in further work for the Church and its liturgy, and Leadbeater was also busy with clairvoyant investigations into the ceremonial of the Christian church, later published in his book The Science of the Sacraments.  This extensive work provides a detailed clairvoyant analysis of the "inner" side of the seven sacraments and the other services of the church, the effects of vestments, church architecture,


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music, incense, ritual movements and associated activities. [43]

          Leadbeater noted that, as with the Mass in Sicily, the ceremonies of the Church were designed to facilitate the outpouring of "spiritual force", with the church building serving as a "centre of magnetic radiation through which spiritual force can be poured out upon a whole district".  It was important that "such radiation should be done as economically as possible" and therefore

          "We should realize that such provision is made through the action of intermediate Powers, whose resources are by no means infinite, however stupendous they may be in comparison with ours.  It is consequently the actual duty of such Powers to economize that force, and therefore they do what They are appointed to do in the easiest possible manner.  For example, in this outpouring of spiritual force it would be distinctly wasteful to pour it down indiscriminately everywhere like rain because that would require the effort of materialization to a lower level at thousands of places at once.  It is obviously more practical to establish at certain points definite magnetic centres, where the machinery of such


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materializations may be permanently arranged, so that when force is poured from above it can be at once distributed without unnecessary waste in the erection of temporary machinery.  The plan adopted by the Christ with regard to this religion is that a special compartment of the great reservoir of spiritual force is set apart for its use, and that a certain order of officials is empowered, by the use of appointed ceremonies, words and signs of power, to draw upon it for the benefit of mankind." [44]

          Each of the sacraments and services of the Church, when performed by a validly ordained priest, draws upon the "reservoir" and brings down an amount of "spiritual force".

          The Holy Eucharist, or Mass, is the most important ceremony in this work:

          "The particular method for the reception and distribution of this downpouring of energy is derived from the Mysteries of some of the older religions.  It had been a favourite plan with them to convey influence from the Deity to His worshippers by means of specially consecrated food and drink - an obviously useful expedient, when


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the object is that the force should be thoroughly permeate the man's physical body and bring it into tune with the change which is simultaneously being introduced into the higher vehicles." [45]

          In the "Shorter Form of the Holy Eucharist" which Leadbeater compiled without the assistance (and contrary to the liturgical taste of Bishop Wedgwood) this particular method is clearly stated.  The priest addresses the congregation prior to the consecration with the words:

          "Brethren, we have built a temple for the distribution of Christ's power, let us now prepare a channel for its reception." [46]

          And, in the prayer of consecration, he says over the bread and wine:

          "O Lord, these our oblations have served as tokens and channels of our love and devotion towards thee;  but now we break the link with us and with all lower things and we pray these to purify and hallow them as earthly channels of thy wondrous power." [47]

          Leadbeater investigated the precise processes


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whereby the downpouring and distribution of the energy took place, describing it in terms which some might feel more appropriate to engineering or electronics:

          " ...if we wish to utilize the power of steam, we must collect it in some sort of container, so that we can set up a pressure, so that we can bring it under control, and send out its jets in the desired direction.  Exactly the same thing is true of this much higher force... The whole ceremony of the Holy Eucharist may from this point of view be regarded as the construction and utilization of a magnificent machine for the liberation of force, and its direction for the helping of the world .... Be it understood, then, that the Angel of the Eucharist erects for us what is called a thought-form of subtle matter, inside which the divine force can be stored, and can accumulate until it can be directed and used, just as steam accumulates in a boiler, or in the dome of a locomotive." [48]

          During the initial parts of the Eucharist, Leadbeater declared a "shell" or "Eucharistic edifice" was built up around the Church, with various peaks and spires being pushed upwards at the singing of the "Kyrie Eleison" and the


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"Gloria", and a whole structure was erected on the inner planes in preparation for the moment of the consecration of the bread and wine which thereby are joined to

          "a single thread of communication, reaching up, without division or alteration, to the Lord Christ Himself, as the Teacher and Head and the Church, and through Him to a height beyond any power of clairvoyant vision which we at present have at our disposal - into that other divine Aspect of Himself which is Very God of Very God." [49]

          While theologians have for centuries debated the meaning of the Presence of Christ in Holy Communion and the doctrine of Transubstantiation, Leadbeater observed it, described it, and explained how it worked.

          He likewise employed his psychic powers to consider Baptism, Confirmation, Vespers, Benediction, and Holy Orders.  As a man was ordained to the various Orders of

the Church, so he was given power to draw upon a greater amount of the power of "the spiritual reservoir in the higher worlds which is linked with the Church".  Force was directed into the candidate making certain links in his higher bodies in what is "practically a psychic surgical operation".   The higher the Order, the more power that could


--- 619 ---

flow through the person, and hence the bishop, linked "directly with the Triple Self of our Lord", possessed the most power, and therefore his blessing is stronger.

          Leadbeater saw no reason why all those who were interested should not be able to observe as he did, and promised them that

          "There will be wondrous outpourings of power visible to those who have learnt how to perceive them - floods of light, flashes of splendid colour, great Angels who have come to help them." [50]

          Obviously, the visions available at celebrations by bishops would be more splendid and colourful, and from its inception the church of Leadbeater and Wedgwood tended to be rather top-heavy to ensure that the highest quality force was adequately poured forth upon the world.

          The altar, vessels and vestments also had an important role to play in the distribution of this force.  The stole, for example, served to distribute the force which rushes up through the neck-hole of the vestments, thereafter being attracted to the metallic crosses fastened to the middle of the stole, and flowing down both sides of


--- 620 ---

it to the ends where "it forms a vortex around each cross attached thereto" so that it can radiate out towards the people through the metal fringe on the ends of the stole.  The chasuble, the traditional vestment worn by the priest when celebrating the Mass, served to collect the force so that it should not dissipate.

          "Thus when the Priest is facing the altar a torrent of force pours out from the central radiating disc on the back, and also from the lower point of the chasuble, and when he faces the people this disc and the pillar beneath it gather up the force and send it streaming over the shoulders to the front pillar thence to radiate out upon the people.  The forces boiling up inside the chasuble are caught by the metal apparel of the amice and swept into the general circulation, although a certain amount may overflow from the edges of the vestment." [51]

          Useful diagrams were provided showing the lines along which the forces flowed.   The biretta, the three-peaked cap which used to be worn by Catholic clergymen but has latterly gone out of fashion, has a value "of the same character as that of a cork in a bottle - to stop evaporation and consequent waste".  The forces which are being aroused and accumulated in the priests should not be allowed to "escape fruitlessly


--- 621 ---

into the higher planes", and therefore the biretta is worn to prevent this waste.

          In planning their churches, Leadbeater and Wedgwood decided against the traditional Catholic scheme of having relics of martyrs and saints preserved in the altar-stone, with Stations of the Cross around the walls.  They decided that it would be advantageous to place small consecrated jewels in the altar stone, with similar jewels in each of the six candlesticks upon the altar, and in the altar cross, and also in seven "Ray Crosses" around the walls of the church building.  In this way, the force could be drawn and directed from altar jewels to ray crosses to candlesticks.  If the bishop was present, his pectoral cross and crozier, into which consecrated jewels were also placed, would complicate the already extraordinarily complex interplay of occult forces.  Several plans were provided in The Science of the Sacraments, giving "circuit diagrams" for this scheme.  The jewels used were especially consecrated by a bishop in a private ceremony in which he linked each of the seven jewels with one of the Masters of the "Seven Rays". [52]

          Towards the end of 1917 it was decided that the name, Old Catholic Church, was liable to be misunderstood, since it identified the Church with a well established


--- 622 ---

movement with which it, in fact, had nothing to do.  It was also felt that the word "Old" was inappropriate to a movement very much concerned with the New.  Therefore the Synod of the Church, meeting in London, changed the name to The Liberal Christian Church (Old Catholic).  But on September 6th, 1918, another Synod meeting resolved to change the name again, and it became, as it has remained, The Liberal Catholic Church.

          At the beginning of 1918 the first published liturgy of the Church appeared, containing the Mass, Vespers, Benediction, Baptism and Confirmation.  The small Church published a directory of its activities in the British Empire, which showed that in England it could claim three bishops (Wedgwood, King and Gauntlett), 13 priests and three places of worship (all oratories in private homes).  In Australia there were two bishops (Leadbeater and Mazel) and six priests (including one in Adelaide and one in Melbourne), and one place of worship (an oratory in a private home).  There was also a priest in New Zealand, and another in the USA. [53]

          According to the Register of St Alban's Liberal Catholic Church in Sydney, 486 people were baptized into the Liberal Catholic Church during the first four years of its functioning in Sydney.  Of these, 311 were women, and 51


--- 623 ---

children. 182 stated that they had no previous religion, 148 had been Anglicans, 16 Roman Catholics, 25 Presbyterians, and 15 Methodists. [54]

          By June, 1919, the work of revising the Liturgy was completed, and a full edition of The Liturgy According  to the Use of the Liberal Catholic Church was published on St Alban's Day that year. [55]  In the "General Information" at the beginning of the book, the bishops informed their readers:

          "The Liberal Catholic Church exists to forward the work of her Master, Christ, in the world and to feed his flock.  It draws the central inspiration of its work from an intense faith in the living Christ, believing that the vitality of a church gains in proportion as its members cease to think only of a Christ who lived two thousand years ago and strive rather to serve as a vehicle for the eternal Christ who ever lives as a mighty spiritual presence in the world." [56]

          The readers were not, however, informed that the bishops drew a careful distinction between the Christ and Jesus, or that the "living Christ" was the Lord Maitreya, occupying the office of Bodhisattva in the Occult Hierarchy, and


--- 624 ---

preparing to revisit the world publicly through the body of Krishnamurti.  Nor were they informed that one of the bishops was in frequent and regular communication with "the eternal Christ", whose imprimatur had been received, in addition to that of Bishop Wedgwood, for the Liturgy.  Between the public presentation of the Church and its inner teachings there was a considerable gap:

          "The influence of the Lord Christ upon the formation of this Church and upon the compilation of its Liturgy was generally known among the more responsible clergy from the beginning, being chiefly passed along through oral tradition..." [57]

          The Convention of the Sydney TS Lodge during Easter, 1918, was the occasion for the first celebration of a High Mass for the new Church:  Leadbeater was celebrant, assisted by Fathers Burt and Dear.  The convention also served as a venue for the first hints of a gathering storm concerning the relationship of the Church and the TS.  However, any unpleasantness was overshadowed by the prospect of purchasing a large church as the headquarters for the movement.

          A Wesleyan church in Regent Street, Sydney, was


--- 625 ---

acquired at the beginning of August.  It was consecrated by Bishop Wedgwood, assisted by Bishop Leadbeater, who delivered an explanatory address on the significance of the ceremonial.  Seven priests were present, including Irving Cooper, who acted as Master of Ceremonies, and fourteen servers. [53]  The Church was dedicated to St Alban, as was almost every aspect of the Liberal Catholic Church's work, its official press, and many of its churches throughout the world.  When the Co-Masonic Temple was established on one side of the Church, Mortuary Railway Station being on the other, it was also dedicated to St Alban.

          This devotion to the noble Roman who is traditionally said to have been martyred during the persecution of the Christians by the Emperor Diocletian around 303AD was not connected with his martyr's heroism.  It was, rather, a means of establishing a link, in terms of Christian symbolism, with one of the Masters, for St Alban had been but one incarnation of him who is known as the Count.

          "He is the Prince Adept at the head of the Seventh Ray, which is now beginning to rule the world in the place of the Sixth Ray, whose characteristic was devotion - degenerating into rather blind and unintelligent manifestations in the Middle


--- 626 ---

Ages..." [59]

          The Count was also responsible for Freemasonry, and other ceremonial movements, and in his incarnation as Francis Bacon he wrote, according to Leadbeater, the plays traditionally attributed to Shakespeare.  The Sixth Ray had at its head the Master Jesus, with whom the Liberal Catholic Church had little to do, since his religion was not that of the New Age. As one member at the time recalled:

          " ...no attempt was made to develop the contacts of the Master Jesus.  In fact He was never referred to as the Master Jesus, so far as my acquaintance with Theosophical literature goes... He was declared to be a virtuous Jewish youth, of mediumistic powers, who lent his body for the manifestation of the Lord Maitreya in the same way that Mr Krishnamurti is believed to do for the present incarnation of the same entity.  The Liberal Catholic Church, though using Christian ceremonial, aimed at contacting, not the Master Jesus, but the Lord Maitreya;  in fact, in Theosophical circles the Master Jesus was very much the poor relation." [60]

          [[line missing in scan]]


--- 627 ---

[[sic]] quickly established itself as another venue for a hectic round of activities to which the devoted Theosophist was committed.  The arrangement of a weekly schedule posed no small difficulty, since it involved regular meetings of the TS, both those for members only and those open to the public, and of the OSE, together with the ES and Co-Masonry, and now the Liberal-Catholic Church.  The considerable overlap between the TS, the LCC and Co-Masonry can be seen from examining lists of Co-Masonic Lodge officers around this time:  the officers of Sydney Lodge No.404 in 1918 included Mr and Mrs Kollerstrom, Leadbeater, Hazel, and L.W. Burt, all of them (as they were by then being described) TS, ES, OSE, LCC and Co-M. [61]

          Leadbeater himself moved happily from one to the other, writing and lecturing for them all, although his emphasis came to be increasingly on the Church.  Even the news that Krishna had failed at his second attempt to matriculate for Oxford could not have dampened the enthusiasm of the man who now held the highest dignities in Church and Masonry at the direct command of those who ruled such things at the Highest Level.

          The next bishop to be consecrated for the Hierarchy of the Church was Irving Steiger Cooper, the first to be consecrated according to the revised rite in the LCC


--- 628 ---

Liturgy.  He was consecrated by Wedgwood, assisted by Leadbeater and Mazel, in St Alban's Cathedral, Sydney, on July 13th, 1919, and appointed Regionary Bishop for the United States of America. [62]

          All was not, however, as happy as it might have appeared on the surface.  Mrs Tingley had given further encouragement to Joseph Fussell to produce yet more literature attacking Leadbeater and Mrs Besant.  This he had done in two pamphlets issued in 1913 and 1914.  The first was entitled Mrs Annie Besant and the Leadbeater Advice, and the second Some Reasons Why the Members of the Universal  Brotherhood and Theosophical Society Do Not Endorse Mrs  Besant Nor the Society of Which She is President.  Much of the old material deriving from the 1906 case was resurrected and republished, and material from the Krishnamurti custody case was also included.

          Fussell listed eight reasons why the Point Loma Theosophists rejected Mrs Besant, most of them were connected with Leadbeater.  First, they did so "in defence of the innocence of youth, for the protection of the children and the sacredness of home-life, and for the public welfare".  Second, because of her declaration that the Theosophical Society did not have... [[missing line in scan]]


--- 629 ---

Besant's TS "leaves aside the law of Moses to walk in the spirit of the Buddha, the Christ".   This implied, argued Fussell, a departure from the Mosaic injunctions against murder, adultery, and theft, though it seems improbable that this was the meaning intended by Mrs Besant.  The fourth reason was the "absurd claim" made by Mrs Besant and Leadbeater regarding the "Coming Christ", claims which Fussell suggested were especially absurd when one considered that Mrs Besant claimed that Leadbeater was on "the threshold of divinity", although he had been declared by the High Court of Madras to hold immoral opinions, "unfit to be a tutor of boys" and "a highly dangerous associate for children".

          From there, Fussell went on to his fifth reason; "the abnormal and preposterous claims - the influence of which I assert cannot be considered otherwise than most harmful, unwholesome and tending towards insanity" made by Mrs Besant and Leadbeater,

          "of knowledge of past incarnations of themselves and others through thousands of years, of their clairvoyant visits to Mars and other planets, of the powers to read auras, see atoms, and their.... [[missing line in scan]]


--- 630

the attention of inquirers away from their duties and the responsibilities of sane living, and tending to produce disorders of the mind." [63]

          Fussell noted as evidence of the influence of such "abnormal and preposterous claims" the fact that Mrs Besant had, in The Theosophist for March, 1910, proclaimed as a "Theosophical Worthy" the former General Secretary of the TS in America, Alex Fullerton, who had, at the time the article was published, been under arrest for writing obscene letters to a young boy.  As a result, he was sent to the State Lunatic Asylum.  Fussell wondered why Mrs Besant's psychic insight into such things had not noted Fullerton's unbalance, since he was writing the obscene letters in 1909 when she visited him in New York.

          Fussell's sixth reason also related to Leadbeater and Mrs Besant:

          "Because of the influence, which I regard as most harmful and pernicious, of the colossal egotism and mutual laudation of Mrs Besant and Leadbeater one of another, claiming to be fellow initiates, and to have 'stood in the presence of the Supreme Director of evolution on this glove,' ...claiming to have read the mind of the Logos;   to have


--- 631

clairvoyantly witnessed the dawn of evolution of this world millions of years ago;  to have been associated together as "monkey-creatures" on the moon... to have incarnated many times on earth in company with the 'Lord Maitreya' and 'Jesus' and other great ones, as well as other present members of Mrs Besant's society, changing sexes and family relationships, now husbands of this one and now wife of that, with large families, Jesus sometimes being a man, sometimes a woman." [64]

          As examples of these extraordinary claims, Fussell cited the life Leadbeater claimed he and Mrs Besant shared on the moon as monkey creatures, and, even more horrifying to Fussell, twelve lives further on, when Mrs Besant was described cooking rats for the twelve brothers (including Maude Sharpe, Esther Bright, Charles Bradlaugh and Mrs Bright) who were her husbands.  Fussell was shocked by the immorality implicit in revelations that Leadbeater had been married to Alcyone (Krishnamurti) and his brother in past incarnations.  He was even more incensed at the blasphemy inherent in accounts of the marriage of Julius Caesar and Christ." [65]

          His seventh and eighth reasons for rejecting Mrs Besant related to the attacks she had initiated on Mrs Tingley, and her (according to Fussell) malicious and false


--- 632 ---

claims that Mrs Tingley had been encouraging others to attack her.

          Fussell sent copies of his pamphlets with a covering letter to the Attorney General of New South Wales, suggesting that a police investigation should be made into Leadbeater.   He noted:

          " ...Leadbeater is a very clever man... and further, that, as is the case with almost all who follow such a line of immoral teaching and conduct with young boys, he is a clever hypnotist and capable of resorting to any sophistry in order to gain victims and blind any who may have the slightest inkling of his proclivities." [66]

          The letter noted that Mrs Tingley had requested Fussell to draw the attention of the police to this dangerous person residing within their jurisdiction.

          After receiving these documents in July, 1917, the Attorney General instructed the police to initiate an investigation.  As was the case on every occasion when the police desired to question him, Leadbeater was declared to be too ill to see them, and was said to be suffering from a heart condition.  Although he had previously been staying


--- 633 ---

with Mr and Mrs Martyn, he had now moved into a flat in the King's Chambers, attached to the headquarters of the Sydney Lodge of the TS.  Staying with him was Oscar Kollerstrom.  The police conducting the enquiry noted that Leadbeater had been running some sort of Theosophical School at the Martyns' house for the past three years, and that at present there were six or seven boys in the school, all between eight and fourteen years of age.

          The police drew some quite definite conclusions from their investigations:

          "Leadbeater has the reputation of being a very clever man and a hypnotist... Reputable residents in the locality have been approached and all are of the opinion that Leadbeater is a sodomist, but they have seen nothing that would warrant any action being taken, although a careful watch has been kept on the house." [67]

          The Inspector-General of Police reported to the Attorney General on January 2nd, 1918, that there was "no evidence to support any charges that Mr Leadbeater is guilty of immoral teachings or practices", and the Attorney General replied to Fussell along these lines.  The police had questioned Mr and Mrs Martyn, and some of the boys.  The file was kept open,


--- 634 ---

and a brief notation was made on September 17th, 1920, to the effect that another enquiry had been received about Leadbeater.  Two years later this file was brought out and used in a major investigation.

          The illness that prevented him from helping the police in their enquiries continued for most of 1920, and Leadbeater devoted his time to Co-Masonic work, having been appointed Administrator-General of the Order in Australia.  He had also become Corresponding Secretary of the ES in Australia, succeeding T.H. Martyn in that office.  Martyn's departure from that responsibility marked the beginning of his disillusionment with Leadbeater, and the way Mrs Besant was managing her Society.

          Mrs Martyn had become progressively more concerned about having Leadbeater in her home;  she had seen naked boys in his bed, and details of the earlier scandals had been brought to her attention.   When Leadbeater was forced to move out during an outbreak of scarlet fever in 1918-19, she simply refused to allow him to return.   She told her husband nothing of her discoveries, and Martyn himself at this time refused to believe any of the allegations about Leadbeater.

          But in 1919 Martyn travelled to the United


--- 635 ---

States, and was horrified to hear Hubert van Hook talk freely about "faking the Lives", and of Leadbeater's immorality with boys.  Martyn had already been approached by one of Leadbeater's boys, and had been told by him of Leadbeater's sexual activities when the boy sought Martyn's help.  But, having regard for Leadbeater's occult status, Martyn "tried to forget what this confession involved, to explain it away;  and succeeded". [68]  Now he was obliged to reconsider all that he knew of what had happened in London, in America and in his own home.  He came to the conclusion that

          "....Leadbeater is a sex-pervert, his mania taking a particular form which I have - though only lately - discovered is a form well known and quite common in the annals of sex-criminology." [69]

          From the United States, Martyn travelled to London, where he met Mrs Besant;  she told him that she had an urgent and most secret task for him to undertake.  He was to carry a message from her back to Wedgwood who was then resident in Sydney.  Wedgwood was ordered to leave the TS, the ES and associated movements, since he had "seriously compromised himself", and she knew him to have been guilty of "sex depravity".  She was concerned that the message should be conveyed in the most secret manner possible, since


--- 636 ---

it involved "compounding a felony".  Mrs Besant further explained to Martyn that an address she had given to the ES concerning black magic and sexual excess was directly referring to Wedgwood's case.  Mrs Besant stated quite categorically that Wedgwood was not, and could net be, an initiate.  [70]

          Martyn was also approached by another Theosophist who sought his advice in the same case. [71]  She claimed that the police were preparing to take action against Wedgwood, together with Bishop Robert King, and two priests, Ferrer and Clarke, and she wanted to warn Wedgwood.  She said that she had arranged for Ferrer to leave England, thus removing one of the main witnesses, and hoped that Martyn would pass the information on to Wedgwood.  During his stay in England, Martyn heard further allegations against Wedgwood of sodomy and sexual involvement with boys from other officers of the TS, and from members.  All this led him to have serious doubts about the claims of Mrs Besant and Leadbeater to high occult status, the promise of the Coming, and the whole foundation upon which the TS and its esoteric structure rested.

          Martyn returned to Sydney gravely disturbed.  He passed Mrs Besant's message regarding Wedgwood on to Jinarajadasa in the first instance, he being Mrs Besant's


--- 637 ---

deputy in the ES, and then visiting Sydney.  Raja (as he had become known) was horrified;  he focused on the statement that Wedgwood was not an initiate:

          " ...the breakdown of Wedgwood involved to him nothing short of the collapse of Leadbeater as an Arhat;  of the divine authority of the L.C. Church;  and of all reliance on the genuineness of reported initiations, discipleships, etc. in which great numbers of people are supposed to have participated. [72]

          Raja immediately consulted Leadbeater, who repeated his assurance that Wedgwood was an initiate.  Raja cabled Mrs Besant:

          "Martyn reports you said Wedgwood not Initiate.  Leadbeater asserts you were present at initiation.  Am most anxious members' sake there should be no fundamental divergence between you and him on such important occult matters.... Do you mean that since you have no recollection you cannot assert Wedgwood initiate but do not wish to be quoted as saying he is positively uninitiated." [73]

          This was despatched on December 17th.  On December 22nd Mrs


--- 638 ---

          Besant cabled her reply:

          "Brother's [i.e. Leadbeater's] statement enough accept fact, cancel message sent." [74]

          This only served to add to Martyn's alarm.  Prior to Raja sending his cable Martyn had a long, private conversation with Leadbeater in which he informed him of the evidence against Wedgwood.  Leadbeater, so Martyn recalled, had said:  "Well, we had better get rid of him."  It seemed that 1920 was not going to be a good year for the TS, or for its leaders, and simmering hostility was soon to break into open warfare.


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Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 
A Biographical Study
by Gregory John Tillett
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